It’s been an intruiging few weeks in Ottawa, as political parties and parliamentarians navigate the new reality of a minority government.
Following the election of Ontario Liberal MP Anthony Rota as the Speaker of the House last week, the House of Commons heard the Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Julie Payette, which contained themes of addressing climate change, strengthening the middle class and contributing to international multilateral efforts to make the world more safe.
Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison lamented the contents of the speech, saying it was missing a few topics important to Kootenay-Columbians.
“Some of the big things were unity in Canada, which wasn’t mentioned at all,” Morrison said. “For our area, it’s the energy sector, which wasn’t mentioned at all, and even closer to home is softwood lumber, which wasn’t mentioned at all.
“It missed western Canada, it missed British Columbia, as a whole, missed us on what are piorities are; we weren’t even talked about.”
Morrison also touched on a pending Liberal proposal to prohibit “military-style” assault rifles and how that would impact rural citizens.
“What is that exactly? But they’re not saying what that is,” Morrison said.
Morrison added that the Liberals have failed to provide any specific cases of someone arrested due to gang crime involving a legally registered firearm.
“Why would you punish people who are licensed and store them and are shooters or hunters and it’s their livelihood — why punish them when it doesn’t affect them?” asked Morrison. “They’re not the ones out there being gangsters and involved in organized crime.”
Morrison said he’s trying to help provide a rural perspective on firearms policy to parliamentarians that represent larger urban centres.
“It’s trying to pass on our knowledge so that maybe they look at it with a different lens,” he said.
The updated free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico is making progress, and Morrison says opposition parties will get the chance to look at the detailed language before ratification now that it has been signed.
He adds that the Liberals had full control during the negotiations of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement prior to the election due to their previous status as a majority party.
However, some subjects haven’t been given enough consideration, such as softwood lumber, the dairy industry or the aluminum industry, Morrison said.
“We just want to really look at the new agreement, see what’s in there, see if there’s room for flexibility and just see exactly what the intentions are so that when we bring it to our consitiuents — when I come home to Cranbrook — I can say here’s where this is going to help us.
“Because it just came out yesterday, it’s just going to take a few months to digest everything inside it.”
Wit the results of the federal election in the books, Morrison has closed his campaign office and is opening a constituency office at 800C Baker St. in Cranbrook. There will be an official opening of the constiuency office on Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Morrison says his staff will look at potentially opening another office in the riding after the Christmas holidays, but in the meantime, he plans to hold ‘pop-up’ offices in different communities for a couple days at a time so that constituents can bring their concerns or issues to him.
Those ‘pop-up’ offices will be advertised in communities in advance of his arrival, Morrison added.